A three-year-old girl waiting for vital heart surgery has had her operation cancelled three times in as many weeks because of a shortage of hospital beds.
Ella Cotterell was due to have an operation to widen the aorta artery in her heart on Monday at Bristol Children’s Hospital, but her surgery was cancelled 48 hours before because all 15 beds in the intensive care unit were full.
Ella, of Bradley Stoke, Bristol, had open heart surgery when she was just nine days old and suffered a stroke at 18 months.
Her parents Ian Cotterell, 44, and Rachel Davis, 40, were told in October that she would need the operation within 12 to 18 months.
The surgery was first scheduled for April 2, but was postponed because of last-minute emergency cases coming in. It was re-arranged for four days later, but again the operation was cancelled for the same reason.
A third date was organised for April 20 and last Thursday she went to the children’s hospital for pre-operative tests. But on Saturday morning her parents received another call from the hospital, explaining her operation would have to be cancelled yet again.
Michele Narey, manager of the Women’s and Children’s division at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The decision to cancel any patient for any procedure is taken extremely seriously, but is sometimes unavoidable because of the need to effectively manage emergency patients requiring beds on a day-to-day basis.”
But her mother Rachel Davis said today she was devastated when the hospital told her the surgery would be cancelled because there were not enough beds. “My husband and I were in tears,” she said.
"When our six-year-old son Liam asked what was wrong we told him Ella's operation had been cancelled again and he said we should tell Gordon Brown.”
The family are now waiting for another surgery date.
“We have asked the doctors if she really needs the surgery as she is so happy at the moment and is running around like a normal little girl, but she could drop down dead at any moment,” said Ms Davis.